Asia Cup 2022: 3 reasons why Rishabh Pant's spot in India's playing XI still isn't confirmed

(L-R): KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik. (P.C.:BCCI)
(L-R): KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik. (P.C.:BCCI)
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Anuj Nitin Prabhu

Rishabh Pant's knocks in the third and fourth T20Is against the West Indies would have given him some much-needed confidence to bat at No. 4 in the shortest format.

The southpaw recorded scores of 33* and 44 to help India pick up successive wins and seal the series. His knocks came after he struggled for runs in the series against South Africa while batting in the same position as he scored just 58 runs in five games.

Despite questions being raised about his place in the T20I team, the team management seems to have backed Pant to be a key player for the upcoming T20 World Cup. But all this could change if the Men in Blue find a better balance with some big names returning to the fold for the Asia Cup 2022.

On that note, here's a look at three main reasons why Rishabh Pant can't take his place for granted:

#3 Lack of impactful performances

Rishabh PantIn tests play's like odi.In Odi play's like T20I.In T20I play's like test.

Thanks to his incredible performances, many believe Rishabh Pant will have a key role to play in the long term in Test cricket. He is slowly delivering on the heavy expectations placed on his shoulders in ODIs as well, as evidenced by his displays against England last month. However, his biggest challenge seems to be in T20Is, where he is yet to crack the code.

Team India have been grooming Pant for a while now to be the pillar in their middle order across formats.. However, in 48 T20I innings, the 24-year-old has scored 883 runs at an average of just 23.86 and a strike rate of 126.32. Both are quite modest numbers by his explosive standards.

India's new brand of ultra-attacking cricket should have suited Pant's natural game. But he hasn't played the kind of match-winning knocks that he has managed on multiple occasions in the other two formats.

The southpaw will need to find solutions before it is too late, especially with competition rising within the squad.

#2 Return of KL Rahul

Let's travel 39 sec of KLassy zone ๐Ÿ’ฅ #KLRahul

KL Rahul was set to become Team India's captain for the T20Is against South Africa at home earlier this year. However, a groin injury ruled him out of the series and his return was further delayed after he tested positive for COVID-19 before the West Indies tour.

The team management did try a number of openers like Ishan Kishan, Rishabh Pant, Suryakumar Yadav, and Shreyas Iyer. But as soon as Rahul was fit and available for the Asia Cup they made him the vice-captain, perhaps indicating that he would open the batting with Rohit Sharma.

Virat Kohli is also back and will likely occupy the No. 3 slot, while Suryakumar Yadav's explosiveness and versatility make him virtually undroppable. Consequently, there might be no place for Pant in the top order, which takes us to our last and most important factor.

#1 Team management backing DK

Dinesh Karthik said "I am extremely happy with the backing from Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid - I hope I can repay the faith with very good performances".

Due to the aforementioned reasons, it could well come down to who the team management prefers between Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik. All-rounders Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja are likely to make India's XI as well, which could leave space for only one of the two wicketkeepers.

Karthik has notably had a completely different role to that of Pant. The 37-year-old has been backed by the management to walk out for the final five overs and provide the team with a strong finish.

This approach from the think tank has been inspired by Karthik's incredible IPL 2022 season as a finisher with the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). If the Men in Blue continue to back the veteran, Pant might have to sit out despite the team boasting no other left-hander in their top and middle order.

With a maximum of 12 games left for India before the start of the T20 World Cup in October, Rishabh Pant will have to make every single opportunity count.

Edited by Anantaajith Ra
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